The League of American Bicyclists kicked off the first day of National Bike to Work Week with their latest annual rankings on the most bicycle-friendly states. Occupying the top spot is Washington, which has held the same position for the past seven years.
The rankings are the result of a number of surveys that were compiled by state transportation departments as well as bicycling supporters. The assessment falls under five categories, such as evaluation and planning, education and encouragement, infrastructure and funding, policies and programs and legislation and enforcement.
The League has been releasing the annual rankings since 2008. This year, they made things a bit tougher for states to have a good showing as they began to also consider other criteria such as having protected bike lanes along state-controlled roads.
Washington credits its top position to the state's dedicated funding for its various programs and infrastructure on bicycling. A number of its state-funded initiatives and awareness campaigns are geared heavily on protecting the rights of cyclists. It also implements the so-called "vulnerable user law," in which negligent drivers who are found to have caused injury to cyclists are subject to stricter punishments.
For the second consecutive year, the second spot went to bike-friendly Minnesota. It joins 24 other states that have implemented a safe-passing law that requires drivers to keep at a distance of at least three feet when they pass a cyclist.
Delaware landed third, a spot higher than its 2014 ranking. It's also one of the states that have shown serious improvements in supporting the League's bicycling advocacy. In 2008, the first year the League conducted the rankings, Delaware ranked at 31.
Another state that showed an impressive ranking improvement is Maryland. In 2008, Maryland was ranked 35. This year, the state was placed at number 10.
These states and all the others that are on top of the list share similar steps in earning a nod from the League. These include constructing bike lanes and wide shoulders, providing access to major tunnels and bridges, lowering speed limits to 20 mph, increasing punishments and penalties for drivers who cause injury or death to cyclists, promoting cycling as a healthy and safe way to move around and producing and distributing maps that show bike paths and trails.
As a result, these states have high rates of commuters who ride bicycles. There is also a low number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.
"The rankings show that there are fantastic efforts to emulate and there is still a lot of work to be done to increase bikeability in states," says the League.
Here is the complete list of the ranking on the most bike-friendly states in the U.S.
11. New Jersey
23. North Carolina
26. Rhode Island
27. New Hampshire
29. New York
38. South Dakota
39. North Dakota
40. New Mexico
42. West Virginia
44. South Carolina
Photo: Elvert Barnes I Flickr